natures secret, the stinging nettle

Nature provides everything that we need to nourish the body physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. While the humble stinging nettle might not be appealing to most as one of nature’s foods, it comes at the right time of year to lift winter sluggishness and provide nourishment for mind and body.

The humble and prolific nettle contains vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as well as being rich in minerals iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and selenium. Due to depletion of nutrients in the soil, our foods are vastly drained of minerals which the body requires for many transactions that nourish and support our body functions and systems, including the digestive system, veinous system as well as the nervous system. If this was not enough, nettles are also a rich source of linoleic, palmitic and linolenic acid as well as several amino acids. The polyphenols in nettles include quercetin, kaempferol and coumarins, as well as being a rich source carotenoids.

As with all plants, the young shoots are the most nutritious. When picking nettles select only the tops to gain maximum nutrition. Nettles are highly sustainable and freely available. After picking, nettles quickly regrow providing new growth and the prolific source of nutrients described, while being readily available in nature for several months.

The Latin name is Urtica doica and it is the process of “urtication” (stinging the skin with fresh nettles) to stimulate circulation that was practiced by the Romans. The Latin source of the word is “Uro” meaning to burn. The Romans would use nettles to keep themselves warm, by rubbing into the skin, as the stinging action brings blood to the surface. It is this very stinging that has the ability to stimulate circulation and relieve pain and swelling. Urtication can be used to relieve inflammation in the body including arthritic swelling and pain. Similarly, if taken as a tea or eaten in salads, soup etc will also address overacidity in the body that can lead to arthritis.

Looking deeper into how and why the Romans used nettles for urtication, it is understood that traditionally nettles were used to treat high blood pressure. Nettles appear to achieve this in several different ways:

  • Stimulation of nitric oxide production which acts as a vasodilator. Vasodilators relax the muscles of the blood vessels helping them to widen to accommodate blood flow circulation. The production of nitric oxide is essential for overall health because it allows blood, nutrients, and oxygen to travel to every part of the body. It is responsible for oxygenating the blood.
  • Nettles are a very rich source of vitamin K which helps protect arteries and promote blood clotting.
  • Nettles have compounds that act as calcium channel blockers which relax the heart muscle by reducing the force of the contractions.
  • Nettles, as many green vegetables, are high in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure, decrease arterial stiffness, and improve cell lining function of the lining of blood vessels. Overall providing many benefits to lower the risk of heart disease.

The leaf when taken internally is an excellent nourishing tonic and rejuvenative, especially for the kidneys and the adrenals.  The nettle nourishes and cleanses the blood, strengthens blood vessels and clears toxins via the bowel.  Spring is the ideal time to drink nettle tea, eat as a wilted (cooked) green vegetable, very much like spinach, or make a beautiful, nutritious soup that can be enjoyed hot or cold. 

As with all plants, nettles appear at the time of year when they are most beneficial to the human body.  Spring is when we want to flush the kidneys by shedding excess water and edema from the body in readiness for the summer heat. An added bonus is that nettle is also antiallergenic and is very effective in the treatment of hay fever as it blocks histamine receptors stopping the immune system from releasing chemicals that trigger allergy symptoms.  Nettle is more effective when taken on a daily basis, therefore for both detoxification and the treatment of hay fever, drink 2-3 cups daily.

In summary, the humble stinging nettle is truly one of nature’s gifts for us all. Simply wash in hot or cold water to remove the sting before enjoying the nutritious benefits of this beautiful herb.

If you have a health issue that you would like to solve naturally, then you should consider herbal, natural and kinesiotherapy. If this approach resonates with you, then contact us today.

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